Saturday, August 29, 2009

Simian Manifesto

Back in July I took a 4 week on-line class from Mary Ann Moss called Pure Experimentation. Here is some of the work I have done since then. It uses varying amounts of collage and stencil, so a certain amount of credit for my collage sensibilities and skills should also go out to in person classes with Anahata Katkin and Claudine Helmuth.

Mary Ann's class is all about using spray paint with stencils. She will offer it again in the spring if you should be interested.

This stuff varies in size from the 4 x6 inch postcard size of Red Rats/ No Evil above to about 14 x 17 inches for Simian Manifesto. The background for Red rats is an advertisement found in a West Coast free weekly newspaper(Seattle or Portland) for a skateboard shop.

In this piece my starting point was an Asheville telephone post advertisement for a nightclub (liberated after the event took place). My daughter, obviously raised in more polite society than I, often raises her eyebrows slightly when she observes my ephemera collection activities. Sometimes, because those teen years are not that far behind her, she even rolls her eyes.

Personally, I love the fact that this format is putting those collected bits and pieces to use.

This picture is more stencil than the others posted here. The neighboring town of Abingdon has an art installation of 20 some fiberglass wolves decorated by various artists. The wolf outside the Barter Theater is collaged with photos from performances and roles of one of the resident actors, Eugene Wolf.

One of the photos inspired the cutting the stencil for Eugene. Next, I cut the stencils for the theater roof-line and the wolf. A little spray paint later and we had this composition.

This collage of three Iranian women should be seen up close and personal; there are so many other little bits embedded in it and partially obscured. Finding the components is a mini treasure hunt. It was titled for the quote used in the piece "It is only here-in private-that I am free"

Squid is just a postcard, but I liked the composition.

Cool Cat, Summer in the City is the process close to full circle. It started as a postcard made from a cat food bag image and a department store junk mail flier, coming together in a matter of minutes. I really liked the result, so before mailing the original postcard off to Seattle, I stopped at the copy shop and copied the image in both original size and a larger format. Using the larger image I created this collage and stencil spray paint composition. Now all that remains is taking this image back to the copy shop and converting it back to postcard size, then it will have gone full circle.

Monkeys, rats, robots, wolves and squid, the stencils I cut and use must reflect some aspect of my personality. What to make of it, I will leave to the more analytically inclined.
I'm just having fun.


Sunday, August 23, 2009

The F-18's woke me from my nap

Bristol is not exactly the big city. Straddling the Tennessee and Virginia border and with the actual state line dividing downtown on the aptly named State Street, our combined population is approximately 43,000 people. Add another 164,000 folks and the impact is felt.

That's the number of that people show up for the two annual NASCAR races held at Bristol Motor Speedway, officially christened the World's Fastest Half-Mile. Local folks either embrace the event wholeheartedly or avoid that side of town and its attendant high traffic entirely. Myself, I belong to the latter category, never having attended a race in the 14 years Bristol has served as my hometown.

In my quiet suburban neighborhood the noisiest sounds are generally those of the apparatus employed in the great American hobby (fetish) of maintaining a manicured green lawn. So late on this warm Saturday afternoon, in my comfy pillow-piled bed, it was ever the shock to be awakened by the roar of F-18 jet engines. Their flyover was one event during the opening ceremonies for the Sharpie 500.

Despite its small half-mile size, Bristol is among the most popular tracks in NASCAR due to its distinct features that include extraordinarily steep banking and an all concrete track surface.
The track is so short that speeds here are far lower than is typical on most NASCAR oval tracks, but very fast compared to other short tracks due to the high banking, making for a considerable amount of "swapping paint". The initial starting grid of 43 vehicles extends almost halfway around the track, thus the slower-qualifying cars begin the race almost half a lap down. The congestion inherent in this facility and the power of the cars has been likened to "flying fighter jets in a gymnasium".

The fall race has traditionally been a night race since lights were installed in 1978 and this race is extremely popular, making it one of the hardest NASCAR tickets to obtain.

It is a big deal that I am perfectly happy to allow our out-of-town visitors enjoy without any ticket competition from me. The track reportedly has sold out the last 55 races straight.


Sunday, August 16, 2009

I thought we were past the season of baby birds....

... but the fragile shell of this recently vacated egg was discovered on my morning walk. In some nearby tall bush or tree, two birds will raise a second summer family.

It is mid-August and the garden is trying on a different color scheme.
Brown eyed Susan that earlier bloomed alongside sweet scented phlox and daisies now accompany Japanese anemone and perennial begonia.

Pink turtle-head or chelone blooms in the moderate shade found under the maple trees and signals the waning of another summer season.

Flamboyantly red perennial hibiscus brightens the fairly sunny northwestern corner of our lot. Grown in good rich soil, this plant will quickly turns into a four to six foot tall bush every spring (dying to the ground over winter). The flowers are also amazingly large at ten inches across.

I knew it the first night the datura began blooming this summer. Coming home late, after nightfall, I opened my car door and the scent immediately gave them away. Scent alone is adequate reason to grow this plant, but the large, lovely, white, night flowering blossoms aren't too hard to take as a bonus.

A small spider awaits opportunity on a hosta leaf.

And bumble bees emit a comforting, buzzy drone as they energetically work the Japanese anemones.


Saturday, August 15, 2009

Gorilla Dust

Once upon a time, when I was a teenager, I had a boyfriend that christened me Little Miss Dictionary Mouth. While the boyfriend has been outgrown, the fondness for words remains.

gorilla dust

n. bluffing, posturing, or hollow attempts at intimidation.

When two male gorillas confront each other, they’re too canny most of the time to actually fight, so they resort to the tried-and-true political tactic of intimidation. Both scurry about in a frenzy, grimacing menacingly, beating their chests and tossing clouds of dirt into the air. It’s a serious encounter, full of powerful and primitive energies, a test of testosterone. Soon one becomes convinced that the other could win the threatened physical engagement, and retreats. It’s called gorilla dust, and nations stir it up all the time.

Not all too surprisingly, I encountered the term gorilla dust used while reading about the uncivil behavior on display at town hall meetings with members of congress this month. An on-line dictionary clarified the meaning of the term.

Randy Hook yells at his senator, Arlen Specter (D-Pennsylvania), during a town hall meeting on health care on August 12, 2009. (Photo: Carolyn Kaster / AP)

I do respect the right of everyone to voice their opinion; that is indeed the purpose of a town hall meeting. My wish is that the discourse could occur in a civil fashion. All the yelling and other antics just seem to parallel the strategies of the aforementioned gorillas.


Wednesday, August 12, 2009

It was supposed to be an easy post...

...just a little story about what my wandering eyes did spy.

A young college student of my acquaintance arrived wearing this exceptional footwear and I simply had to take a picture. My plan was only to compare these "toe-shoes" to the only other gear I know that goes by the same name.

Not so fast....

You Walk Wrong

or so it said in the multi-part article I read on-line in New York Magazine. I read this story as research about shoes with toes and suddenly the blog entry became more complex. Here was all sorts of information that fascinated me. While blog readers would not need to know all of it, a distillation of the relevant bits seemed in order.

Makeup by John Mauraud and Jenai Chin

Dr. William A. Rossi writing in Podiatry Management makes the statement that it took 4 million years of evolution to develop the human foot and our distinctive gait pattern. The typical human foot is an anatomical marvel of evolution with 26 bones, 33 muscles and hundreds of sensory receptors, tendons and ligaments. A multitude of studies demonstrate that the majority of modern footwear creates an unhealthy gait dynamic.

They aren't talking spike heels here.

Two studies I found particularly intriguing focused on expensive running shoes. One published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise demonstrated that wearers of the expensive running shoes were injured more frequently than runners wearing the less expensive shoes (those under $40). In the second study, people running in hard soled shoes sustained injuries at a rate of 14.3 per 1,000 kilometers run. This compares to a more than doubled injury rate of 31.9 per 1,000 kilometers for the runners outfitted in expensive cushioned running shoes.

The cushioning may be part of the problem. Researchers at McGill University in Montreal determined that the more padding there was built into a running shoe, the more force the runner exerted hitting the ground. The foot apparently needs to sense the ground in order to balance our bodies. So runners override the padding built into shoes and along with greater force impacting the foot, there is also an associated increase in forces transmitted to the knee and hip.

Studies point to the fact that our feet were designed for barefoot walking. Barefoot is best. Comparisons of the feet of populations that frequently walk barefoot, in this case the Zulu, with those of habitual shoe wearers like the Europeans, found that healthier feet were positively correlated with less shoe wear.

As barefoot is not feasible in most urban environments, we see the development of Vibram's FiveFingers. As their website touts:

FiveFingers enhance your sense of touch and feel, while improving foot strength, balance, agility, and range of motion. Because wearing Vibram FiveFingers is so close to going barefoot, you’ll enjoy the health and performance benefits of barefooting without some of the risks.

I don't know that I will be running out to get a pair, but I do believe I'll be letting my dogs out a little more often.


Sunday, August 9, 2009

Alice in Wonderland ala Burton and Depp

Curiouser and curiouser, as Alice might say.

Since childhood I've been a big fan of Lewis B. Carroll's Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. My appreciation grew during my teen years as the nuances and absurdities became more evident. Somewhere buried on a bookshelf, there is a copy of the Annotated Alice. Had it been easily located, this blog entry would probably be longer and either more insightful or just wordier.

As a fan of this story and Tim Burton, I am very interested to see what he does with the tale.

Twinkle, twinkle, little bat!
How I wonder what you're at!
Up above the world you fly,
Like a teatray in the sky.
Twinkle, twinkle little bat!
How I wonder what you're at!

Johnny Depp's fondness for unusual headgear (think Pirate Jack Sparrow's three-cornered hat and Willy Wonka) should make him a natural as the Mad Hatter.

Alice in Wonderland The Red Queen
Helena Bonham Carter as the Red Queen
"It takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place."

Disney has released a trailer that you can access here

"Well, in our country," said Alice, still panting a little, "you'd generally get to somewhere else — if you run very fast for a long time, as we've been doing."

"A slow sort of country!" said the Queen. "Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!"

Too bad Disney, Burton and Depp aren't going any faster. It's ever so cruel to make us wait until March of next year for this one. The trailer is such a tease!


The makeup artist certainly does seem to have a peculiar fondness for atypical applications of eyeshadow.